Top six mistakes people make when hiring a personal injury lawyer
Without further do, here are the top six mistakes made by people when hiring a personal injury attorney:
Hiring a lawyer referred by a friend or family member
A great number of personal injury attorneys get hired because they are friends with someone who is also friends or a family member of the victim. While in some instances this is fine as the attorney is a highly rated and effective personal injury lawyer, the vast majority of these situations turn out less than optimum for the victim because the attorney is not the right choice for the case. As set forth below, choosing the attorney who is best for your case depends on many factors including, experience with the specific case type, prior results and integrity.
Hiring a lawyer does not do 100% personal injury
This is particularly true if you have a very serious injury case such as an injury caused by an accident require surgery, or a more permanent type of injury. The more serious your case the more likely it is you will require someone with extensive experience in personal injury. General practitioners are appropriate for small car wreck cases but once significant money is on the line, victim should consider someone who does personal injury only.
Believing bigger is better
Many car accident victims hire attorneys because the firm has many lawyers and they are impressed with the size of the law firm. Unfortunately, the opposite is usually true and that a named partner may meet with the victim and assure them they will handle the case, and as soon as the person walks out the door the cases assigned to an inexperienced associate who will do 98% of the work on the file. This is an everyday occurrence in large law firms and a part of their business model. Selecting a smaller firm or individual attorney is often a better choice for specialized litigation and also to ensure that the attorney that you are hiring actually will do the work on your case.
Not researching the attorney before signing paperwork
In our Houston personal injury practice, we get telephone calls almost every day from people who are dissatisfied with the representation they are receiving from other lawyers. At least 50% of these calls could be eliminated if the persons seeking now to fire their attorney had done their due diligence and research the attorney before signing paperwork with the lawyer. There are many different attorney rating organizations and some are much better than others. Unfortunately, it is hard for a non-lawyer to tell the real ratings driven by peer reviews as opposed to market driven ratings where the rating company has a business relationship with the attorneys. Nevertheless, an online search can reveal many different sources of information regarding an attorney, his or her experience, his or her results and how other clients felt about the relationship. We recommend that victims spend a little more time looking closely at reviews to see which may be accurate and real and those that may be by friends of the attorney.
Hiring a settlement lawyer
There are certain law firms in the greater Houston area that are known as “settlement” law firms. Many of these settlement law firms are advertising on TV and also handle a real high volume of personal injury claims. The high-volume settlement business model is a disaster for personal injury victims because the firm’s business model depends on quick settlement with minimum attorney involvement to be profitable. Personal injury clients usually feel like they got the shaft when they see what the actual take home to them is from one of these firms. Hiring a high-volume settlement firm is calculated to do anything but maximizing your monetary recovery in your pocket.
Hiring an attorney who estimates the value of the case before all the medical is in
Many people hire an attorney who gives them a high estimate of value early on in the case and certainly before a realistic informed opinion can be formed. Almost universally, the victims sign the paperwork only to be disappointed and disillusioned later on. Of course the attorney will have an excuse or explanation why the settlement didn’t turn out so good. Picking an attorney because they voice the largest number upfront is a prescription for disappointment and further calls into question the integrity of the attorney.
In short, by doing a little research most personal injury victims can avoid the pitfalls of retaining a lawyer who is not appropriate for their case. Many do not realize that they made a mistake until they get into their case and by then, the damage has been done. While clients can always fire their attorneys, this can open up a can of worms because contingency lawyers have been inappropriately fired almost always seek payment for their time and expenses. This can lead to the potential of duplicating attorney’s fees when the victim needs to retain a new lawyer. It is much better to do your homework up front and be very selective in who you hire to help you for your case.